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Owner of Battle Ground child care center faces assault charge

The owner of a Battle Ground child care center faces an assault charge for allegedly injuring a girl under her care.

Prosecutors are pursuing charges in Battle Ground Municipal Court against Theresa Pereira for suspicion of fourth-degree assault. Court records say Pereira, 39, owns Great Starts Child Development Center, 2400 N.W. Ninth Ave.

On Feb. 25, Pereira used unreasonable force on an unidentified girl when she tried to stop her from crying and forced her to nap, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

The girl suffered at least “eight separate bruises and/or abrasions,” the affidavit says; the injuries were on her arms, biceps, shoulders, wrists, waist and foot.

A witness described Pereira as “man handling” the small child, forcing the girl’s face onto a cot and holding it there as the child kicked and screamed, according to the affidavit. The woman then picked up the girl like a “rag doll” and shoved her outside an office door, the affidavit says.

“Theresa’s physical actions toward (the girl) had been so severe that an employee and professional who worked at Great Starts quit on the spot and stated she was going to report the abuse to police,” the affidavit says.

The Battle Ground Police Department said in early March that it started an investigation the same day the alleged abuse happened. Officers responded immediately, according to the police department, and the alleged abuse was reported to Child Protective Services.

In a separate case, the mother of a child at Great Starts who reported abuse taking place there faces a charge of making a false or misleading statement to a public servant.

Brianna Mau, 37, sent an email to a Battle Ground officer on Feb. 27 stating that Child Protective Services had interviewed her children and her son disclosed constant abuse to himself and his friends — dragging, hitting, yelling, cursing — at the hands of Pereira and another owner of the child care center, according to a probable cause affidavit. Pereira was already under investigation for an alleged assault on Mau’s daughter, the affidavit says.

The report was handed over to detectives, who determined Mau’s claim about her son’s disclosure was false. A CPS investigator told police the boy only said Pereira had been yelling, court records say.

Mau also took her son to the doctor’s office on March 6 and told a nurse and mandated reporter that he’d been picked up by the ankle and thrown into a bookshelf by Pereira, according to the affidavit. The mother was later confronted about her claim, and she said she made it up to have authorities take the alleged assault on her daughter seriously.

A paralegal for the city of Battle Ground and its prosecuting attorney’s office declined to confirm if the girl in the allegations against Pereira and Mau’s daughter are the same child, citing an exemption on juvenile victim information. The charging information against both Pereira and Mau was filed by prosecutors on May 18.


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